WaKeeney Mini Speedway Roars to Life for the 2017 Season

Does the sound of an engine get your blood pumping? Does time at the track sound like a perfect way to spend the day with your family? Then mark your calendars for the start of another season of competitive gokart racing at the WaKeeney Mini Speedway!

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The checkered flag will drop on Friday, April 28th and Saturday, April 29th to open another season of the Maxxis Midwest Series. We’re expecting returning and new racers who are ready to entertain us with family-friendly, fun competition during the first full weekend of the racing season.

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Twelve single day and weekend races are scheduled for the 2017 season, and several different classes are featured at each race, with trophies awarded to winners of each class:

ROOKIE ( – Age 6 – 8)

Junior 1 NON Points Class (Age 8 – 12)

Junior 1 POINTS Class ( (Age 8 – 12)

Junior 2 NON Points (Age 12 – 15)

Junior 2 POINTS Class (Age 12 – 15)

Adult STOCK HEAVY (Age 16 – UP)

Adult CLONE HEAVY  (Age 16 – UP)

OPEN  – Age 16 & UP

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Spectators from across the state will be filling the stands to watch kart drivers test their skills on our oval track. The WaKeeney Mini Speedway is conveniently located at the crossroads of Hwy. 40 and Hwy. 283, just north of the I-70,128 Exit.

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Come out to WaKeeney Friday, April 28th and 29th to see the racers usher in another season of gokart racing. Join us in the stands and around the track with free entry for the public, or purchase a pit pass to get up close with the drivers and their karts prior to the start of the race (pits are open to ticket holders at noon.) Check out the WaKeeney Mini Speedway website for more information.

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The Trego County Recreation Center Hosts Two Great Events in April

Get out your calendars because WaKeeney will really be hopping this month, with great community-sponsored events!

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Spring has sprung, and that means the Easter Bunny will soon be delivering his beautiful eggs to our kids at the Annual Easter Egg Hunt in Downtown WaKeeney!


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The hunt begins this Saturday, April 15th at 10:30am at the Trego County Courthouse Square with five different age groups taking turns searching the grounds for those colorful, candy-filled eggs our kids crave. The event is open to all kids, with groups of toddlers to two year olds, threes and fours, five and six year olds, ages seven and eight and nine and ten year olds taking turns searching the grounds. Bring your own basket or bag and stick around after the eggs have all been found to receive additional prizes, including a gift certificate for a free ice cream cone from our local McDonalds.

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Come out on Saturday, April 22nd to meet with the doctors, nurses and staff from Trego County Lemke Memorial Hospital and the WaKeeney and Ellis Family Care Centers when they present the Health Fair 2017.

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Hosted by the Trego County Recreation Commission, this event is aimed at promoting a healthy, active lifestyle. Many areas of health will be represented; counseling, blood pressure checks and massage therapy, stress, weight, skin and chiropractic screenings, and cholesterol and diabetes testing (be sure to fast for twelve hours prior for the best chance at a good reading). You will also have a chance to uncover your “Health Age.” This will provide you with an overview of how your health measures up according to others in your age group.

The Trego Lemke Memorial Hospital’s “Health Fair 2017” will run from 8am to 11am on Saturday, April 22nd at the Trego County Recreation Commission office at 512 Caroline Avenue You can find out more by calling the hospital or either the WaKeeney or Ellis clinics.

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WaKeeney’s Memorial to the Veterans of Iwo Jima

When visitors arrive in WaKeeney and turn off I-70’s Exit 128 one of the first things they’ll notice is the silhouette of a very famous image that illustrates one of the most important Allied victories of World War II.

Iwo Jima Memorial

Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima by photographer Joe Rosenthal was an international sensation when it was published in 1945, winning the Pulitzer Prize for photography that year and becoming the iconic image we still associate with the successful Allied invasion of Japan and the determination and strength of the American soldier. It was a hard fought battle that ended on March 26th and turned the tide on the war in the Pacific toward our eventual victory.

The Memorial to Iwo Jima acts as a base for the stars and stripes to unfurl in our famous Kansas wind—a suitable welcome into our city where only a mile north on Hwy. 283 you’ll find the Kansas Veterans Cemetery where members from every branch of the military are interred.

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WaKeeney’s monument to the soldiers of World War II was originally placed at the entrance to the planned site of WaKeeney’s Kansas Veterans Cemetery. It was designed and created by local volunteers and veterans and paid for through donations that came from across the United States. At the start of the cemetery’s construction the memorial was moved to its current location and the American Legion Moore Post #197 held a formal dedication on November 9, 2007.

Today, the Memorial to Iwo Jima is one of the first things all visitors to WaKeeney see when they turn off I-70. It’s one of several memorials to the strength, courage, and great achievements of our military men and women that we’re proud to display.

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We invite all who are interested in remembering their sacrifices to visit the Memorial to Iwo Jima and all our other military memorials when visiting WaKeeney, including the Kansas Veteran’s Cemetery.

Eisenhower Park and the F-14 Fighter Jet of Trego County

Trego - Eisenhower3.jpgAs anyone who loves history knows, Kansas native Dwight D. Eisenhower was a celebrated World War II general prior to becoming the 34th president of the United States. His list of achievements is long, indeed. As Supreme Commander, he led American soldiers on D-Day and as president he sponsored and signed the Civil Rights Bill and connected the entire country via the interstate highway system.

Following the old Highway 40 on its parallel path with the Butterfield Overland Trail, highway planners developed a route that would bring travelers right past WaKeeney. Today, as travelers exit I-70 at WaKeeney’s west exit, Exit 127, they’ll find themselves at the entrance to our city’s beautiful memorial to the man behind the highway, Eisenhower Park.

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The park hugs the southern edge of WaKeeney and is easily accessed via a paved driveway that marks the borders of the park. There’s plenty of space for your pets to explore and kids will be able to stretch their legs after enjoying lunch at one of the many covered picnic tables.

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In 2006, a retired Navy F-14 Tomcat Fighter Jet was added to the park to represent the many military men and women who have fought for this country. The Tomcat, at 62-feet and 40,000 pounds, was dismantled in Ohio and packed onto two trucks (the wings, tailpiece, and flight controls in one, the fuselage on another), which took up nearly two full lanes of the highway.

When the jet arrived in town a team of four retired military men from Virginia rebuilt the jet right in the center of Downtown WaKeeney and many people stopped by to see their work in progress. After it was completed the Tomcat was towed to its’ permanent home in Eisenhower Park, where it can be seen by everyone.

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Today, when you pull off of Exit 127 in WaKeeney, you are able to visit this monument to the military in a park that memorializes one of our country’s greatest commanders.

The Changing Face of the Trego County Courthouse

The borders of a town may be defined by its streets, and its economy is found in the fields that surround it, but if you’re looking for its civic heart you’ll find it beating inside the walls of its county courthouse.

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It was 1888 when the Trego County Courthouse was plotted in the center of WaKeeney’s city square. George R. Ropes, an architect from Topeka, had drawn up plans for a Queen Anne style Victorian building with an Elizabethan frontage. Upon completion the most prominent feature was a cupola imported from Europe that sat 100-feet high atop a tin roof. The main part of the building was ringed by a row of paired windows and peaked false fronts over the entryways, providing a grand look to the overall design.

Inside, the original pair of staircases still flank the east and west doors. The rich, dark wood used for the construction of the stairs was continued throughout the building, including in the courtroom on the top floor where you’ll find the original judge’s bench still in use today. Downstairs in the basement, the now retired jail still sports the unique flat bars and specially designed lock that were installed at the time of construction.

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The courthouse went through a transformation in 1951 and 1952, when it was decided the roof should be removed after having suffered irreparable damage and, at the same time, an update to the look of the exterior could be achieved, turning it into a mid-century style building with a profile of straight lines and ninety-degree angles. The prominent window spositioned over the entryways were also bricked over with a large stone mural of an eagle in flight surrounded by the words “Trego County Courthouse” above and below.

In 1974, our beautiful courthouse became the setting of a Hollywood movie, when Peter Bogdanovich, Ryan O’Neil and Tatum O’Neil filmed Paper Moon in several rooms of the courthouse. Some say those scenes didn’t make the final cut, but look closely at the point in which the father/daughter bunko team escapes the jail and you might see them fall down what appears to be a very familiar staircase.

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The current look of the Trego County Courthouse came to be in 2012 when a new roof was added. It was decided to pay homage to Ropes’s Victorian design and bring back a version of the original peaked roof. Inside the building, the Courthouse’s layout has remained the unchanged since its construction, which makes it one of the oldest buildings still in operation in Kansas today.

Today, the courthouse continues to be the center of civic activity in Trego County. Next time you’re in WaKeeney explore the beautiful craftsmanship of prairie architecture at the Trego County Courthouse!

The Lead Up to Championship Games at TCHS

Trego - Class ReunionsThe 2016-2017 winter sports season is coming to a head, with only a few games and tournaments left before the championship games begin. This year is the 50th anniversary of Trego Community High School Wrestling and we’re happy to be able to celebrate generations of competition when we host the Regional championship tournament on Friday, February 17th and Saturday, February 18th at the Trego Community High School.

WaKeeney will welcome twenty-five wrestling teams from Northwest Kansas schools at Regionals, with two great days of exciting competition. Top wrestlers from Class 3-2-1A will take to the mats to secure their spot at the sub-state tournament at the end of the month.

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TCHS Wrestling

Purple and gold will flood our halls during the tournament and we expect to see a lot of familiar faces in the stands because this year the 2016-2017 team will be honoring all the wrestlers who have come before them with a special shout out to past team members that are in attendance. So, join us to see your favorite wrestlers!

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TCHS Girls Basketball

The TCHS Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball teams are also gearing up for their season’s championship games. There are only three games left before the Sub-State tournament, with Quinter stepping onto our court on Tuesday, February 21st for the final regular season game.

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TCHS Boys Basketball

Get your purple and gold on and come out to celebrate the athletes, past and present, of Trego Community High School! And while you’re in town, explore the many great restaurants and shopping you’ll find in Downtown WaKeeney.

 

The Trego County Historical Society Museum Is Ready For Kansas Day (January 29)

This Sunday, Kansas Day, is the 156th anniversary of our beautiful state, making it a great day to visit the  Trego County Historical Museum, where new collections, guest speakers and the recently completed annex have given our historians more opportunities than ever to tell the stories of our county.

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More Exhibits

At a museum, more floor space means more room to explore interesting collections. At the Trego County museum visitors will find 20th-century artifacts from local people, as well as prehistoric era fossils from a time when a great inland sea trapped some of the earliest sea creatures in limestone at the bottom of the great inland sea that once covered the High Plains.

Of particular interest are the early agricultural tools and machinery and the collection of memorabilia from the Trego County schools. Soon they’ll be adding to that display with photos from the Collyer school.

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A recent installation in the museum is the ornate 1920s façade that once graced the front of the WaKeeney State Bank. Its 145 stones were a donation from local collectors Max and Irene Dirks and local volunteers contributed many hours to preparing them for installation.

Coming soon is a group of prehistoric and ancient fossils that were found on the farm of Leonard and Irene Purinton. Most of the items from either Trego or Gove County and the collection includes a mammoth femur and a squid fossil, sharks teeth, arrowheads, and many other unique items.

Look for the announcement of a special exhibit in April when the museum commemorates the 100th anniversary of World War I. They’ve recently uncovered several vintage propaganda posters deep in their archives and they will take center stage during the exhibition.

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More Events

Last weekend Jim Gray, executive director of the National Drovers Hall of Fame, shared his knowledge of cowboy life during his talk, “Head ‘em Up and Move ‘em Out.” It was a great success, with over 95 people in attendance coming from as far away as Oklahoma.

Several other presenters have enlightened us with stories of other heroic pioneers, such as executive director of the Nicodemus Historical Society Angela Bates who spoke about the history of Nicodemus, the first all-black settlement founded on the Great Plains.

The museum is committed to hosting speakers who can provide a glimpse into the past through storytelling, research and their enthusiasm for the subject.

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More Room

The recent addition of a 120 x 60 square foot building has doubled the museum’s display area, allowing easy access to twice as many displays with artifacts that had spent years in storage due to lack of space. Sections are dedicated to history dating back to prehistoric eras, the ancient past, early pioneer days, and all the way to our modern times, with ample room for guests to explore and a beautiful mural covering one wall.

In addition to the public space, an additional storage space is currently in the works to provide safe and secure storage for artifacts not on display. With this additional space the historians will be able to more efficiently organize and catalogue the museum’s entire collection.

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Next time you’re in WaKeeney stop by the museum to explore all the great stories brought to life by the historians and volunteers of the Trego Historical Society Museum. Check their website for more information about their hours and directions to the museum.  (TregoHistorical.org, 128 N. 13th St, WaKeeney, KS, 785.743.2964)